Britain’s largest education union has demanded that GCSEs be abolished amid fears of a ‘Wild West’ of rampant inflation this summer.
The National Education Union said there is a growing movement to challenge the status quo among Tory MPs and other powerful groups.
It asked if there was a function for the tests when students stay in school until they are 18 and claimed that they ‘eat children’s apprenticeship’.
The union will discuss at its annual Easter conference whether to pass the end of the exams.
Meanwhile, MPs told the Education Committee to expect a ‘Wild West’ of grade inflation this summer as teachers grade students for a second year.
The National Education Union said there is a growing movement to challenge the status quo among Tory MPs and other powerful groups. Pictured: Gavin Williamson
Commission President Robert Halfon said: “The proposed replacement measures for exams this summer run the risk of being too inconsistent between schools and colleges.
“There are concerns that there will be a Wild West in the format and the ever-increasing inflation.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Fundamental questions are now being asked by so many, and not just by us.
By Kenneth Baker [who introduced GCSEs when education secretary], by Conservative MPs in the One Nation group and beyond.
‘They ask questions about curriculum and assessment, for example what is the purpose of GCSEs if students continue to attend education and training until they are 18? Why do we let young people take so many exams? ‘
Another joint general secretary Mary Bousted said schools spend “a tremendous amount of time teaching on the trial, which takes up children’s learning time.”
She said the government should listen “once you have The Times set up a committee to look at curriculum and assessment, once you have over 100 Conservative MPs saying we need to look at these issues.”
Commission President Robert Halfon (pictured) said: ‘The proposed replacement measures for exams this summer run the risk of being too inconsistent between schools and colleges’
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson would like to keep GCSEs in place.
But Dr. Bousted said, “He’s not sophisticated about being aware of his assignment and knowing what the problems are.”
The union also called for facial covers to be removed in classrooms, saying there isn’t enough evidence to support the post-Easter move.
Mr Courtney said facial covers should remain in high schools “until science says it is safe to remove them.”
His comments came after millions of students returned to school in England earlier this month.
High school students are advised to wear face masks where social distance cannot be maintained, including in the classroom, but the government has said the measure will be reviewed at Easter.
Mr Courtney said: “We are concerned that with the data of just two weeks or two weeks and a little bit of weeks it is not safe to make that decision now and therefore say they should be removed after Easter.”
Earlier this month, MPs learned that school leaders had received “threatening letters” from parents who did not want their children to wear face covers.
At a press conference, Mr Courtney said: ‘It is really important that we take all possible measures to try to prevent the spread of cases in schools.
‘Ventilation gets easier the warmer it gets, but we really have to work on ventilation. We would be in favor of wearing a mask until it is clear that we don’t need to wear a mask. ‘
But he added that they hoped masks wouldn’t have to stay until the end of the academic year.
A separate Unison poll of more than 7,000 school counselors found that nearly two in three (63 percent) feel safer at work because of facial covering.
Jon Richards, head of education at Unison, said: “Face covers in schools have only been applied for a few weeks.
“Lifting this measure before the impact on transfer in schools has had time to be assessed would be hasty.”
The joint general secretary of the NEU, Kevin Courtney, said: “Fundamental questions are now being asked by so many, and not just by us.” (file photo)
He warned, ‘The removal of the need for masks in schools could see a spike in cases. This is the last thing the country needs. ‘
Teachers in England will decide their students’ GCSE and A grades after this summer’s exams are canceled.
Mr. Courtney said: “Some secondary school teachers tell me that children are more polite, more diligent and get on with the work they get.
‘You know that there is some backlash from the fact that there is a teacher assessment and that also tells you something about an exam system.
You shouldn’t be in a place where you can do it all by cramming at the last minute.
Real life isn’t like that. We need a number of places where children can work a bit during the year and that is important. ‘
Delegates at the NEU’s virtual annual conference over the Easter holidays will debate a motion calling for the long-term discontinuation of GCSEs following growing calls to reform national assessments.
Mary Bousted said schools ‘spend an enormous amount of time teaching on the trial, which takes up children’s learning time’
Dr. Bousted said, “We have to ask, how much longer can we have a system that promotes memorization?”
During the briefing, Mr. Courtney also called on the government to make a ‘stronger’ case for families to have rapid coronavirus testing done at home.
Secondary school students were asked to take three voluntary Covid-19 tests on site and one at home during the first two weeks. After this first phase, they will receive test kits at home to use twice a week.
Mr. Courtney said, “As a parent, you discover that your asymptomatic child is positive.
‘They were asymptomatic, they didn’t suffer, you notice that they are positive, then you have to keep them at home and you have to stay at home, so it’s not in your immediate, immediate interest.
‘But if everyone did that, we could control things much better. We would like the government to advocate that practice more strongly. ‘
Mr Courtney said the pandemic had exposed the ‘truly shocking’ state of child poverty in England.
He said, “When our members had to teach online, they had the opportunity to look inside children’s homes. And when you see that, you can’t ignore it. ‘
“You see children in bedrooms they share with two or three other siblings, you see children with damp on the walls.”
He added, “You see kids who are in rooms that aren’t bedrooms, they live in the living room.”